Population and Household Incomes Growing in Jefferson County, Iowa

Last week the U.S. Census Bureau released various county-level figures from 2016 and the data shows Jefferson County has seen a 7.4 increase in population over figures released last year. Last year’s population estimate was 17,318, this year’s estimate is 18,090. The data, which is produced using estimations and isn’t quite as accurate as the full census conducted every 10 years, but it does show trends. The number of those families at or below the poverty level has decreased in the last year. In 2015 the estimated poverty rate was 15%, the latest figures show that number at 14%. The median household income has also risen over last year, figures show an average household income was $42,899 in 2015, that number is now $45,257. The change is consistent with micropolitan areas nationwide. In such areas, rent increased more than twice as often as it decreased. The data also includes median household property values, and Jefferson County shows a rise from $101,000 in 2015 to $110,700 in 2016 with 66.3% of the population owning their own home. The average rental rate this past year was $626. A complete breakdown of the mid-census numbers can found at census.gov


Tri-County Region Hires Work-Based Learning Coordinator


Economic Development organizations in the tri-county “Stronger Economic Together” (SET) region of Jefferson, Washington, and Henry Counties recently completed a plan to collaborate on some economic development initiatives. One of the plan’s primary goals is to increase our future workforce and to address the skills gap in the tri-county region. Participants in the planning process believed this could be addressed through a more efficient alignment of workforce efforts between K-12+ education and the business community to address our workforce gaps.

The SET Region Steering Committee is pleased to announce that Sarah Johnson has been hired to serve as a Work-Based Learning Coordinator through this process. Thanks to her extensive background in both education and the business community, Johnson is the ideal candidate to work directly with the schools as well as with business community to best identify the region’s needs and assist in developing a strong workforce pipeline.

The planning effort will include background research with area economic development organizations to understand their workforce development initiatives, as well as with work-based learning coordinators, guidance counselors, career & technical education instructors and community college leaders. Johnson will spend time meeting with parents and students to discuss their interest level in internships, job shadowing and future employment and career goals. Key throughout this process, Johnson will be meeting with area business leaders and human resource personnel to discuss their future workforce needs.

Once this research is complete, we hope to identify some best practices for the tri-county region. This plan will identify what barriers or challenges the region will face in recruiting a future workforce and will make specific recommendations to the SET region about how to proceed with future workforce initiatives.

The Work-Based Learning Coordinator position was made possible by $5,000 seed grant from the USDA. She will be hosted by the Fairfield Economic Development Association [FEDA], the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, and Washington Economic Development Group. The facilitator will be guided by a steering committee composed of members representing economic development organizations and educational institutions in the SE Iowa region.

“We are looking forward to seeing the results of the research that Sarah will be putting together for us,” stated Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for FEDA, “Workforce development is one of FEDA’s core strategic priorities and I’m eager to begin to implementing  the opportunities that she identifies.”

For more information, contact FEDA at 641.472.3436, Joshua.Laraby@growfairfield.com, or www.set-iowa.com

Faircast, Inc. Awarded $855,000 From Iowa Economic Development Authority

July 24, 2017


Iowa Economic Development Authority [IEDA] awarded an $855,000 assistance package to Faircast, Inc. on Friday. The award included $600,000 in direct financial assistance as well as $255,000 in Investment Tax Credits, and was granted through the High Quality Jobs program [HQJ].

The High Quality Jobs program provides assistance to companies creating new jobs and investing in equipment or facilities in Iowa. Faircast recently created 89 jobs at its 9th Street foundry and plans to make a capital investment totaling $3.2 million. “This award will help us catch up with maintenance items that have been neglected,” said Roger Vorhies, President of Faircast, Inc. “As we focus on stabilizing the foundry, we also are setting our sights on growing the company back to its previous levels. This assistance will be essential to making that happen.”

Nearly all 221 employees were laid off from the foundry late June after the lender for the previous ownership exercised Article 9 Foreclosure proceedings. Certain assets were subsequently purchased at auction by Faircast, which restarted production on July 6th. The manufacturer produces ductile and gray iron green sand castings for the agricultural, rail, construction and automotive industries. The foundry has been a major Fairfield employer for over 105 years.


“We are proud to support the Faircast, Inc. foundry project in Fairfield,” said Debi Durham, Director of the IEDA. “The board understands the importance of supporting local companies and giving them the tools they need to keep operations in the state. Keeping this foundry in Iowa so that it can continue to provide good jobs is important to Iowa’s economy.”



Faircast worked through Fairfield Economic Development Association [FEDA] on the application process to obtain the award from IEDA. “The Faircast management has been highly responsive,” stated Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for FEDA, “and because of this, FEDA was able to assist Faircast in receiving this $855,000 incentive package.” FEDA’s foundation of facilitating growth in Fairfield is through business and land development initiatives. “We were able to provide assistance with three large ticket items on this project,” said Laraby, “A temporarily unused facility was brought back into productivity with planned improvements, high quality jobs were created and state level incentives were secured. This is good news for Fairfield.”

We’re Hiring – Facilitator for the Assessment of the School to Work Initiatives



The SET Region (Jefferson, Washington, Henry County) has a goal to increase our future

workforce. We believe this can be accomplished through a more efficient alignment of

workforce efforts between K-12 and the business community to address our workforce gaps. To deliver

some of the strategies identified in this goal, we are searching for a facilitator who can work directly

with the schools as well as with business community to best identify the region’s needs and assist in

developing a strong workforce pipeline.


The SET Region is seeking an individual to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current School to

Work initiatives and recommendations on how we can better prepare students for our regional

workforce needs. The sponsoring organization (SET) has compiled a list of schools in the three-county

region, a list of employers, information on other statewide programs, and other pertinent information

that might be helpful in this process. This study will determine best practices for future workforce

efforts for our area employers and School to Work initiatives.

The planning effort will include the following tasks.


• Meet with area economic development organizations to research their level of commitment to

workforce development.

• Meet with area School to Work coordinators, guidance counselors, CTE instructors and other

personnel to research all current programs offered.

• Meet with area community college personnel charged with high school relations to research

their current programs.

• Meet with parents and students to discuss their interest level in internships, job shadowing and

future employment goals.

• Meet with business leaders and human resource personnel to discuss the future workforce


• Research the state requirements in Career and Technology Education and School to Work


• Review other successful School to Work initiatives.

Identification and Reporting:

• Identify current structures in place.

• Identify current strengths that can be shared among the SET region.

• Identify what barriers or challenges the region will face in recruiting a future workforce.

• Make recommendations to the SET region about how to proceed with future School to Work

and other workforce initiatives.


• The Facilitator will make a formal recommendation to economic development organizations,

area businesses and the school districts on the best practices associated with student

internships, skill sets and other needs to address workforce gaps as a region.

• The Facilitator will suggest to economic development organizations, area businesses and the

school districts ways to enhance curriculum, enhance coordination between school

faculty/administration and facilitate job matching with student interests.

Sponsoring Organization:

The contracted facilitator will be officially hosted by the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance but will also be supported by Fairfield Economic Development Association and Washington Economic Development Group. The facilitator will be guided by a steering committee composed of members representing economic development organizations and educational institutions in the SE Iowa region.

Financial Support:

$5,000 is available to include consulting services, any printed and electronic materials necessary and all travel incurred.


May – Accept applications, interview and hire potential facilitator.

June – First Steering Committee Meeting to lay out expectations, roles, reporting, etc.

June – Facilitator Begins

July 1 – Completion of Research

August 1 – Completion of Identification and Reporting

September 1 – Completion of Delivery and Future Steps Identified


If you are interested in applying for this position, please contact Kristi Ray, Mount Pleasant Area Development Corporation, 124 S. Main Street, Mount Pleasant, IA 52641, 319-385-3101,kray@mountpleasantiowa.org by May 31, 2017.


Fairfield Job Fair Employer Application

Dear Fairfield Area Business Owner,

Fairfield Economic Development Assocation [FEDA] will be hosting a job fair on May 10th from  3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, in partnership with Iowa Workforce Development Center. The event is free of charge to both companies and job seekers.


We encourage you to participate by securing a booth for your firm. Last year we had 200 job seekers attend, compared to 75 job seekers attend the year before. We credited the improved attendance to better marketing and also improved location for the event (the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center.) In addition, we are planning to give away a few prizes to incentivize job seeker attendance.

Please fill out the attached registration form and return it to myself and Nikki Sobaski, our FEDA Office Assistant who is copied on this email by April 19th.

*Note: we also encourage your company to reserve a booth and participate, even if you do not have any current positions open. This will be an opportunity to connect and collect resumes from potential future candidates.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing your company there.


Thank you,

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director

Fairfield Economic Development Association

605 S. 23rd Street, Suite 102

Fairfield, IA 52556




(641) 472-3436


Sep 07 2012 FHS graduates continue to out-pace state ACT averages

This article taken from the Fairfield Ledger August 30, 2012.

Iowa tied for the second-highest average American College Test composite score among states testing more than half of students in the Class of 2012.

Fairfield High School is excited to share the recently released report from ACT showing FHS’s composite scores were again well above Iowa’s state average composite scores for English, math, reading and science, said principal Aaron Becker.

Young Professionals Network Started in Fairfield

Young Professionals of Fairfield (YP Fairfield), a new peer-networking group for 21 – 39 year old working professionals meets monthly. YP Fairfield provides opportunities for social networking, volunteer opportunities, and professional development. Each month, the group will meet at a new venue on the third Thursday at 5:30pm.

The group had their first meeting in May at iPhone Life Magazine. 20 young professionals showed up to hear from young business owners David Averbach and Raphael Burnes. Averbach and Burnes toured the group through iPhone Life, shared the story of how they came to run the company, and gave a glimpse into the future of the magazine.

YP Fairfield will help individuals build their business and social network, gain exposure to what’s going on in the Fairfield area, and exchange ideas to help build a sustainable quality of life in and around Fairfield. The next meeting is on June 19th. Find the group on Facebook – Young Professionals of Fairfield.

For more information contact YP Coordinator Anna Bruen, annabruen@gmail.com or Darin Hayne,dnhayne@gmail.com

Mar 15 2012 Iowa unemployment down to 5.4%, with manufacturers adding 3,500 jobs

Re-posted from the Des Moines Register article by Danelle Eller

Iowa manufacturers added 3,500 jobs in January, a powerful start to a year that began with a total of 3,700 more jobs than in December.

Clipper Wind manufacturing

Photo: Clipper Wind manufacturing, www.clipperwind.com

Iowa’s unemployment rate shrank to 5.4 percent in January, down from 5.6 percent in December and 6.1 percent in January 2011. The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in January, down from 8.5 percent in December and 9.1 percent a year earlier.

The state has added 9,200 jobs over a year earlier, with manufacturing again leading those gains with 11,800 jobs. Government and professional and business services posted the largest losses compared to January 2011.

State leaders say the improving job numbers are a sign the economy is improving.

“The state’s unemployment rate has been tracking downward rapidly since fourth quarter 2011, as the recovery picked up speed,” said Teresa Wahlert, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Newly revised figures for 2011 show that the statewide unemployment rate averaged 5.9 percent in 2011, which was the sixth-lowest rate in the nation.”

Iowa’s unemployment rate — and total nonfarm employment — were adjusted downward beginning in July, the revised data shows. The January report was delayed while the data was benchmarked. February’s employment data will be released March 30.

The estimate of unemployed Iowans dropped to 90,400 in January from 93,400 in December. A year ago, 101,200 Iowans were unemployed.

The state says manufacturing has gained jobs for 19 consecutive months, based on the adjusted 2011 data shows.

Leisure and hospitality services gained 3,200 jobs in January, but remains down 900 jobs for the year. Other services added 1,600 jobs in January and has 1,100 jobs over a year earlier.

Construction added 300 jobs in January and is ahead 3,100 jobs compared to January 2011.

Some of the largest year-over-year losses came from government, with 4,000 fewer jobs, and professional and business services, dropping 3,200 jobs compared to January 2011. Professional and business services pared 1,200 jobs in January over December, declining in four of the last five months, the state said.

The professional services job losses came primarily from temporary employment, a sign that employers are hiring full-time workers instead of relying on temp workers, the state said.

Education and health services shed the most jobs in January, down 2,500. The loss was primarily fueled by a seasonal drop in education services, the state said. The sector is only 200 jobs ahead of a year earlier.

Trade and transportation lost 700 jobs in January but remains up 2,900 jobs. The state said gains in wholesale trade was more than offset by losses in retail trade and transportation.